Climate crisis – lessons learned from the pandemic

Below and as pdf the presentation I made in the Swedish parliament last week at the G100 conference ”Connections between Climate Peace and Human Security”, in cooperation with Stockholm+50.

2022-06-01, Swedish parliament, riksdagen

Climate and human security – lessons to be learned from the pandemic

Jens Holm, MP the Left Party Sweden

This meeting organizes in association with Stockholm+50 and the Stockholm+50 is organized exactly 50 years after the first UN environmental summit, that took place here in Stockholm. Sweden´s then prime minister Olof Palme proposed during that conference that severe destruction against nature should be considered a crime under the Rome Statue, a ecocide. Today, with Russias war in Ukraine and all other destruction against nature, that proposal is more actual than ever, now even suppported by the UN general secretary Antonio Gutierres and it is dissapointing that our and other governments have done so little to make that happen. Let´s make our voice heard so ecocide will be considered as a crime that we can take further to national courts and to the International Criminal Court in der Hauge.

We usually talk about climate change as something that will happens in a distant future and somwhere else, and not here around us. Perhaps it is in the word; change that obscurses the fact that the global warming is here and now and that we live in a crisis, a climate crisis.

Lets have a look at our own continent, and with recent data. The summer 2021 was a record of extreme weather in Europe. 2021 was the hottest summer ever. At the same time we saw record in rainfall causing catastropic floodings around Europe. Western Germany had one day in July the heaviest rainfall in one day ever. And that caused extreme floodings and ruined homes and infrastructure for billions of Euros. In Sweden, one month later in Gävle, we saw similar scenes with unprecedented rainfall and floodings.

2021 southern Europe suffered from an unprecedented heatwave with record temperatures in Spain, Italy and Greece. Sicily, in Italy, had the hottest day ever, 49 degrees C. In Greece the heatwave caused deadly wildfires slashing 8000 square km of forests and homes. Spain had similar problems with wildfires also during the summer of 2021. And the heatwave seems to repeat this year as May become the hottest ever in Spain with temperatures about 12 degress C above normal.

Should we be suprised?

I think not. IPCC and others have long time warned us for rising temperatures and extreme weather. And this is what we see with the global temperature rise about just one degree C. IPCC say in ther latest report that we are on a current on 3 degrees rise in this century. A 3 degrees hotter world would be the end of much of the civilization as we know it.

So, we live in the age of extremes and we have it here in Europe.

What to be done?

Of course bring down the emissions. Fit for 55 is a good first step, but we would need a Fit for 70 with much greater emissions cuts than proposed. Mitigation the emissions is crucial, but I think we should also put more focus on adaptation. Since the climate crisis is here we need to know how to cope with the extremes of it. Could we build greener and cooler cities, preserve more nature and wetlands, have a better preparedness for both wildfires and floods etc? Shure we can. And if we aknowledge that it is a crisis we are facing we can act much quicker, much stronger.

That is the lesson that can be learned from the latest two years of pandemic. Many misstakes were done, not least we learned how fragile our societies are today, the lack of protective equipment and generally how we protected our eldery and the workers in the health and care sector. But when we got together facing this crisis many great achivements were made. And here we have the lessons to be learned. We learned how to transform streets and parking places into pop up biking lanes and green areas. We learned that we can have meetings without fly in fly out to big cities. We learned how to invent and mass produce vaccine in record time. But failed in spreading it to all countries in the world.  

We did all that because the spread of the corona virus was declared a national pandemic and thus a national crisis. If we could do that during that crisis we can do the same and even better to solve the climate crisis.

The corona pandemic was the rehersal. What we are to do now is the real game. Its about time that we once again get together and solve the climate crisis. Because we are here to deal with a crisis not only change in weather.

Cultivated meat in the Swedish parliament

Big success! Today we organized the first cross party meeting ever about the potentials with cultivated meat. The meeting took place in Swedish parliament today. 6 out of 8 parties were around the table. With cultivated meat we have a great potential for a better food system; reduced GHG emissions, less water usage and no animal harmed. And to a great taste!

Thanks all for participating and thanks for inspiring presentations Robert Jones, Mosa Meat, Camilla Björkbom, Eurogroup for Animals, Elena Walden, Good Food Institute and Gustav Johansson Chou Chou.

Personally I am looking forward to my parliamentary debate about cultivated meat with minister Anna-Caren Sätherberg (S). Friday 10/6 in riksdagen (Swedish parliament).

The seminar that was organized today:

Cultivated meat – the food for future
To 2/6, at 8.00-9.00
Room RÖ7-23, Riksdagen

The animal industry is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and resource consumption, not to mention the millions of animals slaughtered each year to become food. Is it possible to solve these problems but still be allowed to eat the meat? A couple of years ago, the idea of cultivated meat appeared as science fiction, but today it is a reality. There are currently about 100 companies in the world that have technology for producing cultivated meat. In 2020, cultivated meat from chicken cells was sold commercially in Singapore. In Europe, it is not yet possible to sell cultivated meat as it is seen as a novel food that must first be approved by the EU and the Member States. Later this year, the first applications to sell cultivated meat are expected to be submitted to the EU Food Authority EFSA.
On April 25, Europe’s first public symposium on cultivated meat was held: ”Cultivated meat: the novel food technology which could help animals and the planet” in Brussels. The possibilities of cultivated meat are now being discussed around Europe, and now the opportunity has come to the Swedish Parliament.

Is cultivated meat the solution to animal suffering, greenhouse gas emissions, resource consumption? What is the role of politics? We are proud to invite you to what we believe is the Riksdag’s first seminar on the theme of cultivated meat.

A very warm welcome!

Jens Holm (V), Maria Stockhaus (M), Per-Arne Håkansson (S)

Cultivated meat – the food for future
To 2/6, at 8.00-9.00
Room RÖ7-23

Cultivated meat – that’s how it works and the upcoming permit process
Robert Jones, Head of Public Affairs, Mosa Meat, Europe’s leading company in cultivated meat. Today, they have a technology ready for growing meat and can in the near future scale up production to meet increased needs. Jones is also chairman of the newly formed industry association for cultivated meat Cellular Agriculture Europe.

Cultivated meat sustainable food system, effects on animals and antibiotic resistance
Camilla Björkbom, Political Adviser Food Policy, Eurogroup for Animals

Cultivated meat – what´s going on in other countries
Elena Walden, Policy Manager, Good Food Institute

Comments by Gustav Johansson, chef Chou Chou.

Detrimental climate impact from meat industry

The 20 biggest European meat- and dairy companies are responsible for more emissions than the Netherlands or Denmark. 17 percent of all emissions in Europe come from the livestock industry. Individuals can of course make an important contribution by reducing or eliminate their consumtion of animal products, but with political action we can reduce the emissions even quicker.

It is about time that we get concrete political measures to target the detrimental environmental and climate impact from the livestock industry. In Sweden we in the Left Party have put forward a proposal for a national action plan for reduced meat consumtion and support for plant based food. What kind of simlilar action has been taken in other European countries?

We need a plant based treaty

Badly needed: A Plantbased Treaty. This was launched at COP26 in Glasgow, and I was there. We all know the detrimental effects of animal industries; for the animals, ecosystems, health and, not the least, climate. Unfortunately the COP summits have not yet put enough focus on the negative impact from consumption of meat and dairy products. The launch of the Plantbased treaty was one of the most promising events at COP26.

Hopefully next COP, in Egypt, will be ready to agree on a target of reduced consumtion of animal products and a shift towards more plant based food. This could be done either by adopting a separate document, such as a separate Plantbased treaty or adding the need for a plantbased shift in to existing treaties such as the methane pledge and into the general text that will be adopted in Sharm el Sheik.

Looking forward to put plant based shift on the climate agenda.

Give the Peace Prize to Greta and FFF

We have nominated Greta Thunberg and FridaysForFuture to the Nobel Peace Prize. The Climate Crisis is about life and death, about peace and war. Climate action is an act of peace. Please find our nomination to the Norwegian Nobel Committee below.

Stockholm 2021-01-31

To the Norwegian Nobel Committee:
Nobel Peace Prize to Greta Thunberg and FridaysForFuture

Greta Thunberg is a climate activist, and the main reason she deserves the Nobel Peace Prize is that despite her young age, she has worked hard to make politicians open their eyes to the climate crisis.

FridaysForFuture (FFF) is the movement that has been built up around Greta Thunberg. Without FridaysForFuture and Greta Thunberg the climate issue would not have been on the agenda to such an extent as it is today.

There is no other topic that is so important as solving the climate crisis, and what we need right now is to focus on how we can solve this crisis. The climate crisis will produce new conflicts and ultimately wars. Action for reducing our emissions and complying with the Paris Agreement is therefore also an act of making peace.

At the climate summit, COP25, in Madrid December 2019 Greta said the following:

“Our leaders are not behaving as if we are in an emergency. In an emergency you change your behaviour. If there is a child standing in the middle of the road and cars are coming at full speed you don’t look away because it feels uncomfortable. You immediately run out and rescue that child.”

In few lines that encompasses Greta Thunberg´s clear and straightforward way of communication the climate urgency in which we live. Thunberg is 18 years old and despite the fact that she is young, she shows us that everyone can make a difference. It’s just a matter of courage and will power. Greta Thunberg and FridaysForFuture have been protesting outside parliaments and elsewhere every Friday over the globe. They have made the world open their eyes and see the reality and not just that, she showed us that every single one could make a difference.

A worldwide movement particularly of children and youth have now joined Greta Thunberg in the FridaysForFuture protests. During 2019 Greta Thunberg and FFF organized some of the biggest manifestations for the climate ever Greta Thunberg and FridaysForFuture have built up the public momentum needed for adequate political action for solving the climate crisis. In spite of the corona pandemic Greta Thunberg and FFF have moved the climate struggle to digital areas and continue to build a world wide movement for the climate.

For that they deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.

Jens Holm, MP riksdagen Sweden
Håkan Svenneling, MP riksdagen Sweden

Pandemic as an opportunity

Tonight I spoke on the European Forum´s panel on Global warming – a fair and inclusive ecological transition. Please find my presentation below. Sorry for misspellings 🙂

The pandemic as an opportunity
The class and gender benefits of a just green new deal
Jens Holm, European Forum 19/11

We all agree that we need a just transition. A transition, or rather transformation, that not only lower our emissions in acordance with our climate targets but also makes the world more equal from an socio- economical point of view. That could imply that an ecological transition is not just in itself. I´d argue that it is, indeed. The climate crisis, collapse in biodiversity and other ecological problems hits the most vurneables the hardest. So, to put the hardes hit first – thats how to solve the problem. Let me take some examples.

In Europe anlone more than 400 000 persons die prematurely every year due to air pollution mainly due to traffic and industry emissions. And the extra costs for the local bad air quality for the member states health budgets is on a staggering 250 to 1000 billion euros.

Who are the persons behind this figure? Who lives in dwellings close to noisy motorways and dirty industries? It is not the rich, it is the working class and lower income people. So, building greener cities, with public transport of world class perhaps free of charge – that would benefit the less well off. Our voters.

A green transition would also be good political action from a gender perspective. Women tend to drive less car and rely more on public transport. Therefore, mass investments in public transport is not only good climate policy, it is good gender policy.

How could we do that? One example froom my home town; Stockholm. In Stockholm we imposed congestion charges 2006 on car trafic in the city. We even won the following referendum on this charges, now turned in to a congestion tax. The tax generates valuble resources that can be used to improve the public transport in the Swedish capital. Who benefits from this? Of course, working class and also women compared to men as a group. Since women, as I mentioned, drive less car and depend more on public transport. Tax on cars is in other words not only the right thing for the climate, it is fenomenal political action for the working class and women.

We could take a similar example on what we eat. What we put on our dinner plates – meat or veggie, lot of sugars or none, alcohol or water – would we usually regard as a personal preference. But we can´t escape from the fact that the food and agricultural sector has a huge usually negative impact on the environment and on public health. A diet towards more plant based, vegetarian, food would improve public health and save thousands and thousands of lives in Europe alone. And, yes, that is a political issue. Today the EU subsidises animal factories, live transports and slaughter houses with public money, well that’s billions and billions of euros. To scrap those subsidises is very good climate policy, but also very good for the public health. Add to that, if we would serve more climate friendly school meals in our schools – many countries don´t even have free school meals – that too would be an important measure in order to reduce emissions from food sector, but it would also help all those youngsters from less well off families where  proper not is to take for granted.

Needless to say. A green just transition could also be the solution to many of todays social challenges. In all our societies we have mass unemployment. Investements in renewable energy, public transport, railway, plant based food (as I mentioned), retrofitting and renovation of dwellings and public buildings – all that are urgently needed for the climate transition, but it would also create millions of new green jobs. I just noted that the PM Boris Johnson was bragging about the 250 000 new green jobs his climate plan would deliver, in particular in northern Great Britian were unemployment is a huge problem. I´m not a fan of Johnson, but is doing the right thing to promise those jobs. The EU Commission has calculated that an increased climate target from 20 to 30 percent to 2020 would have created 6 million new green jobs in the EU. Those calculations are a bit old, I know. But I think those kind of examples could not be enough highlighted.

And it is not only about new jobs. Dirty jobs – if I may say so – in fossil industry will disappear. With active labour policy instruments the state could help workers to find new jobs in new green areas. The market will not fix that.

The pandemic – a window of opportunity

Needles to say, the corona pandemic is a terrible thing. It kills people and closes down our societies. It makes life awful in many respect. I and my famili have suffered from covid-19, so I know a little bit about what I´m talking about.

But, no crisis that doesn´t also bring opportunities. I am referring to what is happing in many cities in Europe right now. Due to restrictions transports have dropped dramtically, transport with personal cars not the least. We have all seen the pictures with empty streets in Paris, London and other metropolies. Air quality has been improved and there is less noise and congestion. Many cities rightly states that this is not a bad thing and the Covid-19 recovery should keep the good features of the pandemic. That means a recovery that will take space from cars and bring it back to the people. Paris for instance has decided to close down more than 70 percent of the car parking areas in the city and plans for the 15 minutes city. A city with access to all relevant service within 15 minutes walk or cycling. Milan, Barcelona, London and Copenhagen are other examples of cities with strategies to make the covid-recovery in to a green and just one by converting car space into bicycle- and walking lanes, planting trees, building parks and invest more in public transport. Here in Stockholm we might shut down Bromma airport, an airport very centrally located, since no one uses it anylonger. What opportunites wouldn´t that offer us in order to build new houses, workplaces, green areas etc…

That is the kind of development we in the Left should facilitate in our cities. And the pandemic brings us this window of opportunity. Let´s use it to build sustainable and inclusive cities!

Let me conclude with saying: Ambitious environmental policies are crucial in order to prevent a climate crisis and a collapse in biodiversity, but environmental political action is also fenomenal from a class and gender perspective. And we in the left are the ones who best know how to combine those perspectives. That is the role we should play when the green deal is to be rolled out in our respective countries.

Jens Holm, the Left Party, Sweden

www.jensholm.se/english

Transport, corona, sustainable transformation

Today I will talk on the European Left climate conference, Transform or Collapse organized by the Spanish/Basque party Bildu. You can follow my presentation and the following discussion at the conference site. We will come up at 18.00. You´ll find my presentation below.

Transport sector, corona and the urgent need for a just and sustainable transformation
Jens Holm, Bildu/GUE-conference Transform or collapse 13-14/11

Accounting for one third of the EU’s total greenhouse emissions, the transport sector is one of the main contributors to today’s climate crisis. Up to the corona pandemic, carbon emissions from the transport sector were booming despite both EU and national emission reduction targets. If we keep on with business as usual we will have a huge increase in European transport-related emissions. Add to that, the transport sector is the main cause for more than 400 000 premature deaths in Europe due to bad air quality. And the extra costs for the local air pollution for the member states health budgets is on a staggering 250 to 1000 billion euros.

So, there is an urgent need for a drastic reduction of emissions from the transport sector. Besides the ordinary climate targets the EU has the goal of lowering transport emissions with 60 percent by 2050 (Transport White Paper, 2011). That is an incredibly low target and not in line with the Paris Agreement. Compare for instance with our national target for transport sector in Sweden, were transport emissions should be cut with 70 percent by 2030, at the latest.

In short; continuous emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants are a threat to our existence. How do we solve this?

The response from the Right is to rely on a dream of a technological quick fix and a lot of biofuels. I´m not saying that new technology is bad, of course not. But self-driving cars, Artificial Inteligence, electric airoplanes etc will just not solve the problem.

We need a sustainable and just transformation of the transport sector. And the Left should welcome technological advancement, but also strive to less and better transports, in other words; we need a behavioural change in the transport sector. In order to achive that we in the Left should work with both progressive regulation and with economical tools such as investments, taxes and fees. We should work with both stick and carrot. To rely on the market would be a risky thing.

The pandemic – a window of opportunity
Needles to say, the corona pandemic is a terrible thing. It kills people and closes down our societies. It makes life awful in many respect.

But, no crisis that doesn´t also bring opportunities.

When it comes to our cities (and the pandemic is a predomantly city phenomenon), due to restrictions transports have dropped dramtically, transport with personal cars not the least. We have all seen the pictures with empty streets in Paris, London and other metropolies. Air quality has been improved and there is less noise and congestion. Many cities rightly states that this is not a bad thing and the Covid-19 recovery should keep the good features of the pandemic. That means a recovery that will take space from cars and bring it back to the people. Paris for instance has decided to close down more than 70 percent of the car parking areas in the city and plans for the 15 minutes city. A city with access to all relevant service within 15 minutes walk or cycling. Milan, Barcelona, London and Copenhagen are other examples of cities with strategies to make the covid-recovery in to a green and just one by converting car space into bicycle- and walking lanes, planting trees, building parks and invest more in public transport. In the Mayors network C40 some 40 cities in Europe and elswere have formed a very progressive working group called Global Mayors Covid-19 Recovery Task Force. The aim is to make the recovery just and green. Or as they put it in their manifesto: ”To rebuild our cities & economies in a way that improves public health, reduces inequality and addresses the climate crisis.” Indeed a red and green recovery.

That is the kind of development we in the Left should facilitate in our cities.

Modal shift from road to rail
But it is not all about our cities. In Europe almost 80 percent of the land freight transports are delivered by lorries on roads, with a lot of emissions, noise and congestion as a consequence. From Left to the Right there is pretty much consensus around the necessity for transporting more goods on rail and less on

road. But in today´s marked driven just-in time society that will not happen. However, during the pandemic something actually happned. When goods transport with lorries on roads many times got stuck between our borders or because the drivers were home due to sickness, goods transport on rail has been working smoothly and actually winning market shares during the pandemic. Perhaps a start of a modal shift towards more sustainable freight transports?

Hopefully. And we, as politicians should suppport this modal shift.

One way is simply to tax road transports and use the revenues to the railway and waterways (which is also a more sustainable way to transport goods).The best example would is probably to be found in Europe’s premier transit country, Switzerland. In the year 2001, the Swiss government imposed the Heavy Goods Vehicle Charge, a tax on heavy lorry transports (over 3.5 tons). The tax has been a true success when it has reduced the total number of heavy transports through the country and the revenues been invested in the railway system. A success in other words!

Otherwise, the first thing states could do right now is to reduce, or scrap altogether, the track access fees that railway operators pay today to transport on the rail tracks. That would make it cheaper to transport on railway and the rail sector would grow. Some countries have done that during the pandemic; Germany and France, to mention the two most outstanding examples.

Make the transition both red and green
Let me conclude with some reflections upon how the Left should deal with green transition issues. We embrace the idea of a Green New Deal. That is because it combines lower emissions with building of a society which is more just and inclusive. We sometimes say in Sweden; a real green transition is impossible without left political action. But I would argue that ambitious environmental action is a good left policy in itself.

For instance. I mentioned 400 000 premature death´s due to air pollution. Who are the persons behind this figure? Who lives in dwellings close to noisy motorways and dirty industries? It is not the rich, it is the working class and lower income people. So, building greener cities, with public transport of world class perhaps free of charge – that would benefit the less well off. Our voters.

Another example. Environmental taxation is usually good policy also from a class perspective. Rich people tend to drive more car, have bigger cars and more cars in general. Thus, they will pay more when we tax the cars. If the revenues goes to public transport, bicycling and walking will benefit the less well off even more. And imagine a progressive tax on air flights were the price of tickets increases with the amount of flights that are carried out during a year. Well, it would be the frequent flyers that would pay the price, revenues could go to public transport and rebuild our railway. To the benefit of all.

A final example. In Stockholm we imposed congestion charges 2006 on car trafic in the city. We even won the referendum on this charges, now turned in to a congestion tax. The tax generates valuble resources that can be used to improve the public transport in the Swedish capital. Who benefits from this? Of course, working class and also women compared to men as a group. Since women drive less car and depend more on public transport.

My point is: Ambitious environmental policies are crucial in order to prevent a climate crisis and a collapse in biodiversity, but environmental political action is also fenomenal from a class and gender perspective. And we in the left are the ones who best know how to combine those perspectives. That is the role we should play when the green deal is to be rolled out in our respective countries.

Jens Holm, the Left Party, Sweden

www.jensholm.se/english

EU and cars – when market trumps the climate

I am participating right now in the conference ”The European Green Deal”, hosted by the German EU presidency (can be followed on the lived stream). Very interesting indeed and so many passionate contributions froom fellow MPs all over Europe. That is very promising.

But how promising are signals from the EU? For that reason I asked The EU Comission and DG Move about the possibility for a single Member State to ban the sale of new fossil cars, as is discussed in the UK, France, Denmark and of course in my home country, Sweden. And I got an answer I did not want. Mr Herald Ruijters from DG Move said pretty bluntly: ”No” and referred to the EU internal market and a supposed ”balance” between market and climate.

But with a no for member states to regulate polluting cars when the EU doesn´t essentially means a NO for a member state to take action on climate. It means that the European Union, once again, let the market trump the climate.

Brave and climate friendly countries need to take action against this market fundamentalism. Save the climate must the no. 1 priority.

The conference can be seen here via the German Presidency´s Youtube channel. My intervention on this is at 2.23 min and the reply at 2.40 min.

Stop annexation of the West Bank

I am co-signing this important letter against the planned Israeli annexation of the West Bank, together with more than 1000 other MPs and MEPs around the world. The whole letter here (with signatories):  WestBank Joint Letter 23-06-2020 and below (without names).

I has got a world wide spread attention: BBC, El Pais, Le Figaro, Sveriges Radio among others.

What a great initiative of Mr Avraham Burg, ex-speaker of the Knesset, Israel!

Joint letter by 1.080 European parliamentarians against Israeli annexation of West Bank
To: EU High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell
European Foreign Ministers

23 June 2020
Dear High Representative Borrell, dear Foreign Ministers,
We, parliamentarians from across Europe committed to a rules-based global order, share serious concerns about President Trump’s plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the imminent prospect of Israeli annexation of West Bank territory. We are deeply worried about the precedent this would set for international relations at large.

For decades, Europe has been promoting a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the form of a two-state solution, in line with international law and relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. Regrettably, President Trump’s plan departs from internationally agreed parameters and principles. It promotes effectively permanent Israeli control over a fragmented Palestinian territory, leaving Palestinians with no sovereignty and giving a green light to Israel to unilaterally annex significant parts of the West Bank.

In line with the Trump plan, Israel’s new coalition agreement states that the government can move forward with annexation as soon as 1 July 2020. Such a move will be fatal to the prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace and will challenge the most basic norms guiding international relations, including the UN Charter.

We are profoundly concerned about the impact of annexation on the lives of Israelis and Palestinians, as well as its destabilizing potential in a region on our continent’s doorstep. These concerns are no less serious at a time when the world is struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, the largest collective emergency we have faced for decades.
In appreciation of Europe’s long-term commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we ask European leaders to act decisively in response to this challenge. Europe must take the lead in bringing international actors together to prevent annexation and to safeguard the prospects of the two-state solution and a just resolution to the conflict.

European representatives, including High Representative Josep Borrell, have stated that annexation “could not pass unchallenged”. We fully support this: acquisition of territory by force has no place in 2020 and must have commensurate consequences. Failure to adequately respond would encourage other states with territorial claims to disregard basic principles of international law. The rules-based global order is central to Europe’s own long-term stability and security. We have a profound interest and responsibility to protect it.

A lasting solution to the conflict must meet the legitimate aspirations and security needs and guarantee equal rights of both Israelis and Palestinians. Europe has the diplomatic tools to promote this just goal, and we stand ready to support such efforts.

Yours respectfully,

Situación grave de abogados en Colombia

We have today sent this letter to the Colombian president, Ivan Duque. AbogadosColombiaCarta2020-05-28

Estimado Sr. Presidente,

Es un placer saludarle en nombre de Riksdagen, Parlamento Sueco, con el objeto de expresarle nuestra preocupación por la presunta realización de seguimientos ilegales al abogado Sebastián Escobar del Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo – CCAJAR y otras organizaciones representantes de víctimas.

Según las informaciones publicadas por la Revista Semana el pasado 1 de mayo y recogidas por otros medios nacionales e internacionales así como por organismos internacionales, miembros de la Fuerza Pública habrían utilizado herramientas informáticas destinadas a la persecución e investigación del delito, contra un total de 130 personas de diferentes sectores, sin mediar investigación alguna referida a procesos judiciales regulares. Lo anterior confirmaría que las labores de inteligencia habrían sido puestas al servicio no de la persecución de delitos sino de las personas que trabajan desde la legalidad por el respeto y la garantía de los derechos humanos. Lastimosamente se repetirían hechos análogos acontecidos a manos del extinto Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad y otros aparatos, sin que hasta la fecha se hayan podido identificar sus máximos responsables ni erradicar definitivamente estas presuntas prácticas irregulares.

En este sentido preocupan actuaciones como la protagonizada por la Magistrada de la Corte Suprema de Justicia Cristina Lombana quien habría conocido en el contexto de otro proceso los 130 casos referidos. Ello, a raíz de una inspección y allanamiento ordenada el 18 de diciembre de 2019 en las instalaciones del Batallón de Ciber Inteligencia (Bacib) y al Batallón de Contrainteligencia de seguridad (Bacsi). Solo casi cinco meses más tarde, hasta el 4 de mayo de 2020, la Magistrada Lombana procedió a hacer una compulsa de copias a la Procuraduría y a la Fiscalía lo que evidenciaría que conocía los hechos desde al menos, la fecha citada. Esto incrementa los temores de que exista un cierto grado de connivencia y corrupción por parte de los órganos de administración de justicia que contribuya por acción u omisión a frustrar las investigaciones penales. El pasado 18 de mayo, la Magistrada se declaró impedida con respecto al caso de espionaje militar.

Frente a estas informaciones queremos recordar que la independencia de los abogados y el libre ejercicio de la abogacía es uno de los principales barómetros de la democracia y de la efectividad del Estado de Derecho. Ello, de conformidad con lo dispuesto en los Principios de Naciones Unidas para La Función de los Abogados y en particular los Principios 16 y 17. [1]

El compromiso que suscribimos así con las personas y colectivos que frecuentemente operan a nivel de sociedad civil lo consideramos vital para contribuir al fortalecimiento del Estado de Derecho. Tanto para garantizar que los ciudadanos y ciudadanas puedan ejercer los derechos que les corresponde en calidad de titulares de los mismos como requerir de las autoridades competentes que cumplan con las obligaciones derivadas de los compromisos suscritos a nivel nacional, regional e internacional.

El abogado Sebastián Escobar y el Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo-Ccajar al que pertenece son un ejemplo paradigmático cuya labor admiramos y respetamos. Esta organización se ha convertido en una referencia por el valioso papel desempeñado desde hace décadas para promover el cumplimiento de la legalidad y los derechos individuales y colectivos de los grupos de población más vulnerables.

Muy lamentablemente, las actividades de ciberinteligencia ilegal de las que reporta la revista Semana serían sólo una parte de la inteligencia ilegal realizada en contra de abogados y personas defensoras de derechos humanos:

  • El abogado Germán Romero de la organización DH Colombia, había denunciado en octubre de 2019 robos de información, seguimientos, llamadas y una amenaza directa por parte de una persona desconocida. Estos hechos sucedieron en el marco de múltiples investigaciones que el abogado adelanta contra altos mandos de las Fuerzas Militares, por su posible responsabilidad en ejecuciones extrajudiciales y desapariciones forzadas.
  • En febrero de 2020, dos otras organizaciones defensoras de derechos humanos alertaron de haber sido objetos de vigilancia ilegal mediante seguimientos de personas y drones que sobrevolaron sus instalaciones. Una de ellas fue la Comisión de Justicia y Paz, que representa a víctimas en el Sistema Integral de Verdad, Justicia, Reparación y Garantías de No repetición. Su Director, Danilo Rueda, ha sido declarado objetivo dentro de un plan de asesinato. Asimismo, existirían informaciones fidedignas sobre operaciones de inteligencia ilegal en contra del anterior director de JyP, Padre Alberto Franco y sobre las lideresas comunitarias y empeñada en la implementación del Acuerdo de Paz, Jani Silva y Luz Marina Cuchumbe. El abogado Daniel Prado, asociado de la Comisión, ha denunciado la presencia de un dron con capacidad de grabación de video y sonido caído en el patio de su residencia; además se ha enfrentado a una campaña de amenazas e intimidaciones siendo el representante de las víctimas, en el proceso penal contra el grupo paramilitar conocido como ”Los 12 Apóstoles”.
  • La Corporación Jurídica Libertad denunció públicamente actividades de vigilancia ilegal y hostigamientos el pasado 18 de febrero, cuando tres hombres de civil llegaron a la sede de la organización, tomando fotografías e interrogando el vigilante para obtener información de los abogados/as de derechos humanos: se verificó que la moto en la que se movilizaban los hombres era de propiedad del Ministerio de Defensa.

Por todo lo anterior, nos gustaría solicitar respetuosamente del Gobierno de la República de Colombia y la Jefatura de Estado que usted ostenta, la consideración de las peticiones detallas a continuación:

  1. Adoptar las medidas necesarias para que cese de forma inmediata toda labor de espionaje y vigilancia ilegal en contra del Colectivo José Alvear Restrepo y el conjunto de personas y organizaciones afectadas;
  2. Reconocer públicamente la labor desarrollada por las personas y colectivos que como los mencionados contribuyen de manera decisiva y en el marco de la legalidad a construir una sociedad más justa y democrática;
  3. Adoptar medidas de prevención y protección efectivas ajustadas a las necesidades de las personas afectadas;
  4. Velar porque se entregue a la justicia y a las autoridades correspondientes toda la información probatoria relevante para el esclarecimiento de los hechos, la identificación de los responsables y la respectiva judicialización y sanción, sin que pueda seguir dándose prácticas de encubrimiento, persecución, amenazas y presión contra los miembros del Ejército Nacional que en calidad de testigos directos de los hechos han rendido sus declaraciones ante la justicia.
  5. Impulsar el diseño de una política orientada al desmantelamiento de las estructuras que han dado lugar a los hechos denunciados y ofrezca garantías de no repetición.
  6. Promover espacios de diálogo con los actores de la sociedad civil sobre los límites a la labor de inteligencia en una democracia, la depuración de estos organismos, así como la desclasificación, corrección y entrega de toda información adquirida ilegal o ilegítimamente contra personas y organizaciones defensoras de derechos humanos.
  7. Abrir el espacio para que el Estado colombiano cuente con una Comisión de expertos y expertas internacionales que puedan colaborar independiente y genuinamente para avanzar en la lucha contra la impunidad fomentando reales garantías de no repetición.

Jens Holm, diputado, Riksdagen, Parlamento Sueco
Håkan Svenneling, diputado, Riksdagen, Parlamento Sueco

[1]      Principios Básicos sobre la Función de los Abogados, adoptados en el Octavo Congreso de las Naciones Unidas sobre Prevención del Delito y Tratamiento del Delincuente, celebrado en La Habana (Cuba) del 27 de agosto al 27 de septiembre de 1990. Principio 16: “Los gobiernos garantizarán que los abogados a) puedan desempeñar todas sus funciones profesionales sin intimidaciones, obstáculos, acosos o interferencias indebidas (…)” Principio 17: “Cuando la seguridad de los abogados sea amenazada a raíz del ejercicio de sus funciones, recibirán de las autoridades protección adecuada.”